Friday, January 31, 2014


That long run I had planned today? Nope. Didn't happen. Sometimes I wonder about myself. I certainly *could* have run another 6 miles. I just plain didn't want to. My stomach felt off and was bothering me all through the run. I have hardly slept all week. Sam is doing much better, but her coughing is still waking her up at night, which in turn means she's waking me up - just like when she was little and I was up with her 3 or 4 times in the night. It sure makes one tired. I was running on the roads at noontime, and Rt. 123 was really busy with trucks roaring past, creating swirls of dust and fumes. Yuck. Yes, it was warm (35 degrees!), and it was beautiful once I got out into the Pennelville section, and I still managed to average 8:30s for 9 miles, but man, the desire to complete the planned run just was not there. I know I have it in me to be mentally strong and slog it out - I have done so before - but today, well, I admit defeat...and hope for a better run next time. And in the meantime, I'm still planning on enjoying a delicious early birthday dinner out at Frontier tonight ;) Priorities, people, priorities!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Dump Loop

I got a call a little after noon today from daycare. Sam was not herself, Sherry said. She had no real symptoms to report, other than a very low-grade temperature and a bit of coughing, but Sam had taken it upon herself several times throughout the morning to go to the "quiet box" in the reading area to snuggle up and rest. Sherry was fine with her staying, but wanted to give the opportunity to come get her if I felt it would be better. I appreciated the call, and the fact that I was able to leave work to get her. Sam was very happy to see me when I got there, and decided that it was "very unusual" for me to be picking her up at naptime. She was in good spirits, but clearly worn out. We spent the afternoon coloring and watching TV and just hanging out. I was glad to be able to give her the chance to rest up at home for the afternoon.

As I had to get some newsletter stuff done, and was also hoping to run, Ryan very nicely agreed to come home around 2:30. That helped a lot! I thought I'd take advantage of the sunshine, so I headed out to run as soon as he got home. The plan was for a decent effort run of between 7 and 8 miles, and I decided I'd run it on the snowmobile trails around the dump. It was a bit chilly and windy, but conditions were really pretty darn good and I was able to keep the pace pretty snappy (at least for me on the trails in the winter) with the last two miles even clocking in at under 9:00 pace :-)

Here's hoping Sam is back on track for a better day tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Winter is a rough season when you have kids. There is just so much sickness. Ugh. Sam is back to being little sniffly and has developed a cough again. I don't think the cough kept her up last night, but it sure kept me up. There was no way I was getting up for that 5:15 am alarm. Luckily, my schedule is fairly flexible and I was able to get a run in late this afternoon before picking Sam up at daycare. I bundled up and hit the snowmobile trails out to Lover's Lane. I was surprised at how good the conditions were. There's been no recent snowmobile traffic, but with an icy base topped with a thin layer of crunchy snow, the trails made for some really good running. The deer have apparently decided it's a good place to walk too - the trail was inundated with little heart-shaped deer tracks. A few mountain bikers with big, fat tires have been out as well. Got in a nice late afternoon five miles.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Slow Slog in the Cathance

We met up with Kristen and Morgan this morning for breakfast - yum! - and then came back to our house to suit up for a snowshoe walk down to the river. It had disaster written all over it even before we hit the trails when Sam had a meltdown about wearing a scarf or buff around her neck to keep her warm. We did finally agree to a compromise, but she didn't head out the door in the best of moods. Then, a few steps in, she caught her foot and went down, her whole boot and snowshoe coming off as she faceplanted in the snow. Oh happy joy joy. I picked her up and we tried again, but there was yet another fall and soon the snowshoes were off and left at the side of the trail. Sadly, that didn't last long either. I finally sent Morgan, Kristen and Ryan off for their own adventure, and Sam and I trudged back to the car.

I really want her to be able to enjoy being outside, and as she complained of tired legs on the way back (we seriously had probably walked about .1 miles!), I talked with her about being able to work through a bit of tiredness and not give up so easily. Do you think my legs were tired during my 50 mile race, I said? Yes, they were, but I kept going. Life isn't always easy, sweetpea. Sometimes you just have to keep pushing! Poor kid, with two ultrarunners as parents, it's going to be tough to catch a break about tired legs, but on the flip side, she is only four years old and I don't want to push too hard and have her never want to get out on her snowshoes or hike with us again.

We sat in the car and had a snack and read books, and when she asked why they weren't back yet, I told her it was her choice to come back to the car and we would just have to wait. Life is rough, sometimes. While we waited, Morgan, Kristen and Ryan had a great walk out in the Cathance, enjoying the beauty of the trails and the icy river. I was glad that Ryan could get out there with them and show them why we love it so much.

The rest of the afternoon went much better with the girls playing happily, thank goodness, and they hardly blinked when I went out for my run around 2:00 pm. Unfortunately, I had tired legs too, and the run was a bit of a slog, but it sure was beautiful. Much icier than my jaunt out there midweek, and I just didn't have much pep in the face of the variable conditions. Stopped to watch the river for a while, and saw a lot of animal tracks - snowshoe hare, deer, fox, mice (right into a little hole in the edge of the moss under the snow).

Very cool ice formations in the river! Took a long time to get in 6.75 miles, but I got it done. And I'm very glad to have a rest day on tap for tomorrow :-)

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Saturday TMR Run

Even with my "new" schedule, I haven't had the chance to join the Trail Monsters very often for Saturday runs. Actually, I suppose it's more of a choice. Sometimes, it's just easier on everyone to run from home. It takes less time, there is less guilt, and more flexibility in just stepping out the front door and not having a planned time to meet up with others to run. But, it is really nice to run with friends and I have missed it, so after the snowshoe race and all that goes with it last weekend, I told Ryan I was taking today and going to the Brad and that was that :-) Ha.

I talked with Mindy last weekend, and planned to meet up with she and Val for a run. She emailed me the other day saying they were going to do the Bigger Beautiful Loop, which would be 20 miles. I knew I wasn't up for that, so I wrote back to say I'd love to join them for a portion of the run and would just turn around at some point as my plan was for 14 to 15 miles, even if I had to head back alone. In the end, that wasn't an issue at all, as we headed out with a big group - 11 people and 5 dogs - and there was always someone to run with. I found running with the dogs at the very beginning a bit overwhelming, but once we spread out a bit along the trails, everybody settled down. Andy, Blaine, John, Nathan, Pankaj and Ian quickly pulled away, with Alan and his two pups in the middle, and then Tim, Val, Mindy, Piper and I grouped together. Lots of fun to catch up and chat with everyone as we ran along. Conditions were decent, with a few inches of sugary snow atop packed snow and ice. It was windy, but not all that cold, and once we were in the woods, it wasn't bad at all. Lots of deer and turkey tracks along the way, but no other people out and no snowmobiles either.

We ran into Andy and Blaine retracing their steps near the spot where we popped out onto the powerlines. I always forget how vast the stretch is out under the high-tension lines. Today the sky and the colors were subdued as we ran along, but it was beautiful in a sort of otherworldly way. A little ways out onto the powerlines, we saw Nathan and Pankaj. Ian and John must run off with the dogs, so the two of them joined our crew. Val and Mindy veered off a bit further down the trail for their additional loop, and the four of us kept running until we reached the river.

We had already planned to turn back before we reached the river, as none of us were confident enough that we could follow the whole Beautiful loop, but upon seeing the river, my mind was even more made up. Good lord. There was no way I was crossing that! Of course, come to find out, Ian and John and the dogs did indeed cross the river, but wow! I wouldn't have dared.

John, out in the middle of the river. Crazy! 
(Photo blatantly taken from Ian's Facebook posting ;))

We got a bit strung out along the trail on the return trip. I spent some time talking with Nathan, and then with Tim and Pankaj, and then for final 3+ miles, I was running the trail with Nathan ahead, and Tim and Pankaj behind, lost in my own thoughts, enjoying the trail. I felt pretty strong the whole way, although a bit tired certainly up those final hills to the park border. Still, not bad for being the first time I've put on the Nathan pack and run (almost) 15 miles since Stonecat!

We all headed to Edna & Lucy's after the run to trade more stories and of course, eat :-) Amy met up with us too, and it was fun to see her! All told, it was a great morning. Happy with the miles, and happy to have spent some time out on the trails with friends.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Sunrise Run

6:00 am. Zero degrees. The sky was dark, with a thin line of electric blue along the horizon, one star bright ahead, the half moon shining brightly behind. Sufficiently bundled up with multiple layers, a hood and thick hat and gloves, I felt insulated against the cold. It helped that there was no wind. Still, my eyes watered for the first few miles, and a thin layer of frost built up around the edge of my hood. In the thin beam of my headlamp, my world was reduced to the band of snow in front of me, a mix of snowmobile tracks, footsteps and deer prints. The world was quiet, with no sound other than the crunch of the snow underfoot. Slowly along the horizon, the colors shifted to a deep pinky orange. I ran out to Lover's Lane and turned around. On the return trip, I was able to turn off my headlamp, enjoying the soft light of early morning. Got in a frosty 5 miles as the moon set and the sun rose. A pretty good way to start the day.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Snowy, Icy Cathance

Brrr! Winter is back, and it is cold. And windy. But I didn't run yesterday as I had planned (laziness and lack of sleep and cold temps deterred me), and since I had the afternoon free to run, well, in between first work and second work and making dinner and all that fun stuff :-), I headed out around 1:00 pm. The problem was, I drove from home to the ecology center parking lot over in Highland Green, and forgot my Garmin. Darn it! I really dislike when that happens. Before I was pregnant with Sam, I never had a Garmin and it never bothered me to not know exact distances, but now, I'm used to it and love the data. Oh well. Ryan said, just go without it and enjoy the time in the woods. So I took a deep breath and looked at the time on my phone, and headed out. It was cold all right, but luckily, out in the woods I was protected from the majority of the wind.

I ran the Heath loop first. The trees creaked and groaned in the wind. Startled a snowshoe hare, its coat white speckled with brown, and noticed some fresh Pileated Woodpecker evidence - bits of fresh bark on the ground and two big holes in the side of a tree at the edge of the trails. As I headed down along the Barnes Leap Trail, I could hear the river roaring. The ice-covered rocks looked like tan taffy beneath the flowing water. In one spot, the spray from the water had encased the lower branches of a few evergreen trees in ice. Gorgeous. The trails were fairly well packed for the most part, with soft, sugary snow atop an icy base, although as I got farther out into the trail system, there was less traffic so there was more slipping. I crossed the new bridge of the Ravine Loop and ran a small loop on the new trails over there. Much less traffic out there, but surprisingly there was a fair amount of bare (or almost bare) ground under the big pine trees. Lots of ice too. Looks like they've put in some new trail out there, so I'll definitely have to get back out there to explore when it's not so cold out and when the footing is a bit better!

Returned along the river, and finished up with 1:25 on the clock. Based on the trail system, I'm thinking I ran around 7 miles, which means it was pretty slow out there, but that singletrack is never fast, and especially not in the winter. Regardless of distance, it was nice to be out in the woods on a cold and blustery afternoon, enjoying winter's beauty and working up a sweat instead of complaining about the weather :-)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

2014 Bradbury Squall Snowshoe Race Report

Less than a minute into this morning's race, and I was saying to myself, "Oh man, how it is possible that I forgot how painful snowshoe racing is?!" My lungs felt like they were about to explode. I know it's going to happen, but it's always still a shock to the system :-) Going up that steep hill to the Snowmobile Trail, with Zak at the top cheering me on, I had just enough breath to say, "Well, how come you're not racing?" "I'm smarter than all of you," was the reply. Indeed!

I suffered a bit up the Snowmobile Trail - man, did the snowshoes feel heavy on my feet and odd, too. Ryan had put on ice cleats in place of my typical deep cleats and they just felt strange underfoot. I also couldn't believe it, but I had to make a short stop to fix one of the straps on my snowshoe - yikes! Such a rookie move! I was in a bit of a rush getting them on before the start as I had taken a warm-up run that might have gone a few minutes longer than it should have, and one of my shoelaces was caught up in the strap. I think it loosened it just enough... oh well, lesson (re)learned. Nathan passed me just before the turn onto the singletrack, and although I tried to keep him and a few others in my sight, I let my mind get the best of me through here and slowed up a bit. Darn that brain of mine! Wish I could just turn it off sometimes. Gotta work on that.

I managed to turn it around at the turn-around (ha!) and resolved to run the downhill as fast as I could. Still got passed by one woman though, and didn't quite have enough to make the ground back up. I did, however, manage to hold off the person right on my tail, who turned out to be Sean Case, so I was thankful for the small bit of kick I did have in my legs! Slightly disappointed in how I let the pace slip a bit in the 2nd mile, but there's always next time.Ended up 5th female in 26:27. The funny thing about this is that Ryan predicted last night that I would finish in 26:30. Guess he knows me and my racing well!

2.8 mile snowshoe race
22nd of 70 finishers (5th of 37 women).

As always, a huge shout out to Ryan, Ian and all the volunteers who make these races what they are. And given the trail marginal conditions yesterday before the few inches of snow that fell overnight, Ryan really did pull together a good course that was fun and fair to run. Not to mention there were 70 finishers today! That is just plain awesome!!

Also, a big thank you to Irene and Dana for coming up to spend the day with Sam so that both Ryan and I could race, and even have a chance to sit and eat and hang out with friends at Edna & Lucy's after the race. Sam had a great time with Grammie and Grampie, of course!

And lastly, many thanks to Linda for the fun hats! I think Sam has claimed them both :-)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Mellow Five

Today was busy. Ryan spent the morning running around shoveling snow and plotting the best way to take us wandering through the woods on our snowshoes tomorrow in the first Bradbury snowshoe race. I was initially intending to get up and run before he left for the Brad at 7:30 am, but around 11:30 pm last night, I woke myself up out a deep sleep with one of those huge gasping coughing fits that leaves you breathless. It was so bad that Ryan actually got up out of bed and went downstairs to get the inhaler for me. He kept saying, "Be calm," and in between coughs and gasps, I said, "I can't help it," which made me realize I've had this same interaction with Sam during some of her coughing fits before, except that I'm always the one hoping for her to calm down so she can catch her breath. And I realized she really truly can't help it. The inhaler helped, but made me all jittery. I laid back down and rested fitfully for a while in between softer coughs before finally falling asleep, but not before both cats came up to make sure I was OK, Gigi putting her little nose to mine with a nudge and Ronnie licking my face. Guess they knew something was up. Luckily Sam slept right through the fuss. I swear I am not sick anymore, but I just cannot get rid of this cough. Ugh. The rest of the night was a restless one and I just didn't feel like getting up and going out in the dark for a run.

Instead Sam and I had a mellow morning before heading up to the YMCA for her swim class. She really loves it, and it is fun to watch her in the water. She was excited to report that today she blew bubbles... out her nose!... into the water! Oh the joys of being four :-) We hit the farmer's market with Annie and family afterwards for some pretzels, local produce and people watching before heading home for lunch. Ryan got home not too much later, and I went out for my run mid-afternoon just as a light snow started to fall. I ran the Highland Green loop at a mellow pace. The powerlines and the dirt road sections were much firmer than yesterday but not icy enough to need screwshoes, which was nice. Got in 5.2 miles. I'm pretty sure this week's training has drained the legs a bit, especially considering I spent November and December doing very low mileage and have just started to ramp things back up this month, but I'm looking forward to a fun, and no doubt painful, 2.9 mile snowshoe race tomorrow anyway :-)

Sam was in a very good mood today and very helpful. She helped me make a sign for the soup...

... asking that it be protected at the race so that she could have it back :-)

She helped me make cookies for prizes, and while I was out running, helped Ryan write in people's ages on their race numbers...

...then she came to the store with me later in the afternoon to pick up a few things, came home and helped me chop mushrooms for dinner, and then helped Swiffer after I had vaacumed. All things take a little longer with her help, but she really does love to have a job to do, and we certainly want to promote helping out!

Friday, January 17, 2014

A Friday Afternoon Adventure in Search of Decent Trails and Maybe Even Some Dirt!

I was desperate for a trail run. Too much pavement lately, and my legs and head needed a return to the woods. The problem is, as everyone around here knows, the snow has been melting at a rapid pace meaning all the trails were likely either posthole-hell or icy. Well, I didn't care. I was determined to find some good trail to run on, or maybe even some dirt! I do so love my schedule, as it meant I had this afternoon free. And what better thing to do on a sunny and warm Friday afternoon than hit the trails? ;)

I headed out on the powerlines. Wow, there was some serious bare dirt and rocks, not to mention some sloppy wet sand. In the shadows, the snow was relatively packed, with some icy sections, of course. Still, there was a fair amount of slipping and sliding, although nothing that I didn't expect. I decided to turn off the trails at Tedford Road and run up to the Highland Green back road, as I really wanted to check out the Cathance trails. The backroad was clear of snow and very muddy. I was lured off the road onto the cart paths at hole #8. There were some big stretches of clear gravel and grass, but lots of soft snow too. But no matter, I was only on the cart paths for two holes before heading down the old woods road to the field and out to the river. There had obviously been some serious traffic on the trails, as there was a good, if thin, line of packed snow from snowshoers. But if you slipped off just a bit, wham! Right through. It was a bit iffy, but hey, I really hadn't been expecting anything better. I could hear the river roaring from a good distance, and man, it was really flowing! Very cool. I stopped a few times to check it out.

The trail along the river was pretty nice, with some good runnable stretches...

..but I had pretty much had it with the variable conditions by the time I got back to the road so instead of going around the Heath, I banged a left, took the back road back to Tedford and returned home along the snowmobile trail the way I went out. I think I pretty much had a bit of everything on this run - packed snow, soft snow, ice, soggy boggy sections, a few flooded bridges, bare ground, mud, sand, bare rocks, lots of water, slipping, sliding, postholing, deer tracks and just me and the woods. All in all, it was an effortful run, but relaxed at the same time, if that makes any sense. My legs felt a bit heavy from the effort of Wednesday's run, but dissipated as I went along. I ended up with 8.3 miles in 1:32 and a smile on my face. All in all, it was a fine way to spend a Friday afternoon!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Simpson's Point

Since my "What the heck is a tempo run" post, I've talked a bit with Ryan about my marathon training. Ryan thinks tempo run are dumb. Ha. Or maybe it was just that he was saying my four-mile tempo run was dumb?! ;) In any event, he encouraged me to look at the "Advanced Marathon" training book by Pfitzinger that he borrowed from Jamie, and which he used in his last marathon training. I'm a bit leery of training plans to begin with, especially those that are accompanied by a book, but the 18 week plan with a build to 55 miles did seem fairly reasonable, although there are days that say something like V02 Max, 8 mi w/ 5 x 600 m @ 5k race pace; jog 90 sec between, and Lactate Threshold, 10 mi w/ 5 mi @ 15k to half marathon race pace. Those words are rather scary, I must say. But since, let's face it, I'm probably going to muck with any plan I go with, I did begrudgingly agree in the end that the Pfitz plan seems more my type of plan. There is a lot of running, yes, but there is no real, typical speedwork and the vast majority of the suggested runs for the weeks are ones that it seems like I could do without having too many thoughts of "oh my god, I must hit this exact speed," etc.

So I've modified my approach a bit. I erased the Hal Higdon numbers, and wrote in the Pfitz numbers in my planner. Of course, I then proceeded to modify those numbers the very first week. Gotta factor in the snowshoe race! ;-)

In any event, today's run was supposed to be 8 miles at a steady pace, meaning not too fast, but definitely not recovery pace. It was a gloriously sunny afternoon and I got out of work at noon. I really really really wanted to run through the Commons out to Simpson's Point, but a quick recon look at the trails led me to realize that I would just be better off doing the whole run on the roads. Darn this wacky weather! The first few miles were really busy. I was dodging traffic and icy sidewalks and other runners and walkers. Things mellowed out once I got out to the edge of town. Ah. Much more to my liking. I stopped at the edge of the Commons to pee and check out the trail conditions there. Lots of snow and ice. I continued on out through the fields of Pennelville, all looking distressingly golden and much less white than they should for this time of year.

The Garmin beeped 5.0 right at the turn-around at Simpson's Point, so I stopped my watch, ate a Salted Caramel Gu (Delicious by the way! It was lunchtime after all.), and took in a view for a minute or two. The sun shimmered off the iced-over bay, and big blocks of ice looked like sculptures up at the edge of the shoreline. Very nice. Then I was off again for the return trip. Took a slightly different route back and ended up with 9.4 miles in 1:17. I knew I was pushing the pace for most of the run, in part because the route was essentially all flat road, but the legs felt good, it was warm, and steady is such a relative term. Probably at the edge of "steady" today, but happy with how it went. I think I need to do Friday's run on trails though. I haven't run much on the roads until the past week or so, and I know I need to make sure to give my legs some trail time so I can keep everything happy! Hoping the trails firm up over the next few days!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Dark and Stormy

There's this little voice inside my head that breaks through every once in a while. It breaks through the "I'm strong," "I'm observant," "I live in a safe place" layer of thoughts that allow me to run alone on the trails and roads. I honestly don't feel threatened or nervous when I'm out running by myself all that often. I feel safe and comfortable in the woods. I've never had a problem, and I know that most people out in the world are good people. But that doesn't mean I don't get freaked out sometimes. I don't know if all runners have this slightly paranoid voice inside their head, if it's just women runners, or if it's just me. The voice seems to come out most when I'm out running in the dark at night (which is a rarity, it's true) or if I'm running through an area out on the trails with easy access, like the quarry or the dump pond area, especially if I'm running through in the mid-afternoon, say a Friday in the summer. It never rears its head when I'm out in the morning running as the sun comes up. I just don't think people looking for trouble are out and about at 6:30 am. In any event, I know this little voice is just there to keep me safe, to keep me aware. But I still don't like it. I wish I didn't even have to think about anything unsafe happening.

I'm still trying to get rid of the last vestiges of the cold I've had since New Years. It's gone except for this annoying post-nasal drip that is making me cough. Ugh. Last night I felt exhausted, and this morning I didn't manage to get up with the alarm. But I was kicking myself about it later, so I decided I would go out tonight for a few miles. It was rainy and 40 degrees when I headed out the door at 8:00 pm after Sam fell asleep. My plan was to run the Patriot Commons loop. Except there was this creepy guy walking along the sidewalk. And then a big pick-up truck zoomed by me on the high school road. It was too much. That little voice broke through, and I didn't feel right continuing on the loop. I turned around. And instead I did loops through the neighborhood. Actually, it wasn't all that bad. It was misty and wet and sloppy out, but it was warm. And I was only out for 29 minutes, which is pretty much nothing in the scheme of things.

So, short, mellow run done, and the cat vomit got cleaned off my F-lites too :-) Win win. (Yes, came home this afternoon to find that one of the cats had spit up a hairball off the edge of their perch by the window. The vomit cascaded off the mat and right into and on four of my running shoes. So gross!)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Is It Spring?!

Apparently, the weather gods are feeling a bit neurotic this winter... Ice. Snow. Rain. Freezing temps. Back to warm temps. Back to ice. Back to snow. Back to rain. Boo. I don't love the extreme cold temps, but if it's going to be winter, there should be snow on the ground. Period. And enough that we can all get out and play in it without it melting or icing up every other week. Sheesh!

I ran on the bike path this morning. First run there this season. I hemmed and hawed last night about where to run, but finally Ryan said, well, you're training for a road marathon, right? You should probably run on the roads. I planned to run the Foreside loop, but this morning, it was just above freezing and Ryan really didn't want me out on roads when we were unsure about conditions. He suggested the bike path, and while I wasn't thrilled with the idea, I did admit that it would likely be the safest option. So off I went. The thing was that the plan called for 12 miles. Which would mean 2+ out-and-backs. Not my favorite. But it was a nice morning, the sun was shining, the river was pretty, the thin veneer of ice on the pavement was melting and I wasn't dodging traffic. The footing was a bit tricky on the first "out" but not too bad. I decided to go beyond the end of the bike path for another mile so that I'd only have to do one additional out-and-back. The road portion actually wasn't bad, as there was a decent shoulder and it was covered thickly with sand.

Things got busier the longer I was out there. People running and walking, and a lot of people in the dog park. It also got warmer, much warmer. I was overdressed to begin with, and finally shed my gloves around mile 8. I saw a few people in shorts, which seemed a bit much to me, but hey, it was in the mid-40s, I guess! With all the activity, there was enough to keep my mind occupied and I didn't really get bored. It also didn't get windy until the final 2.5 miles back to the car, which was nice! Nothing worse than that bike path on a really windy day. Ugh.

Managed to keep the pace fairly steady, with only the first mile in the 9:00s. The rest all fell in the high 8:30s to high 8:40s, with the average pace for the run of 8:43. Felt fairly comfortable, although my ankles started to feel it near the end. I guess I did a bit more slipping yesterday than I thought. Still, happy with how the run went overall. It was a good choice.

When I got home, Ryan headed out to Bradbury for some snowshoe recon. Sam and I hung out inside for a while until I finally told her I thought we should get out and tromp around in the snow. She was up for going outside, but wanted to wear her "fast" sneakers and stay off the snow. So we took a walk to the end of the complex, at which point she started to get a bit bored and said she wanted to run back. We ran back on the sidewalks with her in the lead. I actually really did have to run to keep up :-) When we got back to the house, she decided we should do some sprints to and from the door to the parking lot. We settled on 10, but then she did a few extra. As she said, she wanted to "get her energy out." :-)

It was so nice we stayed outside for a while longer, sweeping off the patio and walking around out back. Actually, Sam was really just sweeping the mud she found out in the yard, but she sure was having fun!

Saturday, January 11, 2014


Today was Sam's first swim lesson. She really loves the water, can swim across the pool with her water wings on and is very comfortable in a pool, so I really thought that it would go well, and that she would love the chance to get to swim this winter. But a little teeny tiny bit of me was worried that Ryan might be right, that it would go badly and be a complete waste of time and money. I was even more worried when we sat waiting for the class to start and Sam's best friend Annie wasn't there. I didn't know if Sam would clam up or get really upset without Anne there. She was quiet and pensive. But as soon as it was time for the kids to line up, she got right in line, took the teacher's hand and walked into the therapy pool area where they held the classes without a backward glance. We went up to the end of the observation deck where we had a view into the room, and sure enough, she had on her PFD floatie and was in the water. We could see her nodding at the teacher's remarks and following instructions. Anne showed up about 10 minutes later - Their driveway was an ice skating rink. I wonder why? Darn this weather! - but I honestly think Sam would have been fine either way. Once she was in the water, she was having fun. We saw her jumping and swimming and playing games. When the half hour was up, she walked out and said, "It was my first class and I did great," with a big smile on her face. We were so proud of her! And so glad it went well :-)

We celebrated with donuts and then came home for lunch and so that Ryan and I could get out for our respective runs in the foggy, rainy, downright yucky weather. I went first, and chose to run the snowmobile trail out to Lover's Lane. It wasn't the best as things were pretty soft and 10:00 to 11:00 pace took some effort, but there were some pretty decent stretches, and I was glad to be on the trail running through the fog and rain instead of on the roads dodging puddles and slush and cars and ice. The weird thing was that when I headed out it was 34 degrees and the rain hitting my face throughout was pretty darn cold, but there were some big pockets of warm air out there. Weird weather!

Friday, January 10, 2014

What the Heck is a Tempo Run Anyway?

I'm loosely basing my training plan on Hal Higdon's Advanced I marathon plan, which called for a 30 minute tempo run this morning. This is what the plan says about tempo runs:

"A tempo run is a continuous run with a buildup in the middle to near 10-K race pace. Notice I said "near" 10-K race pace. Coach Jack Daniels defines the peak pace for tempo runs at the pace you might run if racing flat-out for about an hour. That's fairly fast, particularly if the tempo run is 45 minutes long, but you're only going to be near peak pace for 3-6 minutes in the middle of the run. In the Advanced 1 programs, tempo runs also are scheduled for Thursdays. Here's how to do this workout. A tempo run of 30 to 40 minutes would begin with 10-15 minutes easy running, build to peak speed during the next 10-20 minutes, then finish with 5-10 minutes easy running. The pace buildup should be gradual, not sudden, with peak speed coming about two-thirds into the workout and only for those few minutes mentioned above. You can do tempo runs almost anywhere: on the road, on trails or even on a track. Tempo runs should not be punishing. You should finish refreshed, which will happen if you don't push the pace too hard or too long. It helps also to pick a scenic course for your tempo runs. You can do your tempo run with another runner, but usually it works better to run solo. There's less danger of going too slow or (more the problem) too fast if you choose his pace, not yours."

I haven't done any consistent speed work in years, and haven't raced a 10k with the exception of the Scuffle in ages. I have no idea what my 10k pace is. If I remember correctly my best college 10k was something like 44:40 or is it 40:44? Oh hell, I don't know. So, I decided that 7:30 would be a good pace for the "near" 10k pace. I mean, why not?

I headed out at 6:00 am, shining in the darkness with my headlamp, reflective gear and blinking light. I ran across the street on the Patriot Commons loop, adding on a 1/2 mile out and back on Rt. 201 for the last mile of the course. The first mile went by in an "easy" pace of 8:48, after which I started to pick up the pace for mile #2. Trying to make the uptick in pace gradual was a bit difficult. Mile #2 ended up being 7:52. When I started mile #3, I pushed the pace a little more and figured I would just try and hold that pace for the whole mile. Ended up with 7:31. Last mile, back to easy pace, was 8:19. Did I do what was called for? Not quite sure, but it did make me realize that I really need to work on some speed if I even plan to be able to run the marathon pace that I want to run! Also made me realize that perhaps speed work is better done in the light of day when I'm not dodging little sections of ice and worried about oncoming traffic ;)

Wore the F-Lites for the first time this morning. They felt a little tight in the toe area, probably because I was wearing thick wool socks and didn't have them laced quite properly. But otherwise, they felt good and light on my feet.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Few Samisms

Having a dramatic four year old can be exasperating, but on the other hand, she almost always bounces back quickly from her breakdowns, and often has us laughing with the things she says. Here are a few of my favorites from this week so far:

"Are you OK, kiddo?" upon hearing a sigh from the other room.
"I'm totally fine, Mama."

Last night while in the bath, Sam said to me, "Mama, there's a button on the liner!" When I told her it was actually a magnet to help keep the shower liner affixed to the tub, she said, with a straight face and in an earnest tone, "Wow, the worker who did that was really very talented." 

After I told her we'd get the new shelf up in her room this weekend, she replied, "Whenever you want to do it is really fine with me." 

Me, upon seeing her come back up the stairs: "What were you doing down there?"
Sam, smiling brightly: "Putting rocks in my purse." 

Yup, that's my girl :-)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Bradbury Snowmobile Trail Run

Yes, yes, I know, it's such a shame that I only had to work a half-day today and then had a few things to exchange in Freeport, which put me oh, so close to Bradbury. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, there was hardly any wind, and the car thermometer was reading 22 degrees. Woohoo! Off to Bradbury I went. The plan was to head out on the Snowmobile Trail and just see what happened. After yesterday's excursion in our neck of the woods, I wasn't sure what I would find. Well, I think I found the best screwshoe run of the winter for me so far. The grooming machine had been out at some point on the Link. It was a veritable highway. It was also packed solid. Ahhh. Perfect. A lot of little debris down, but nothing that couldn't be jumped or run over. At the junction with the Snowmobile Trail, the groomer went right and I went left up the hill. The trail wasn't quite as groomed from there but it was still a very firm surface without much ice. Oh, I had to skirt some good ice in a few of the spots I would have expected to find it, but really, it was some nice running. I was very happy. It felt so nice to not have to worry about every step and wonder if I was going to punch through or slip on the ice. I actually pondered running more than my intended 6 miles, but just as the Garmin beeped 3 miles about halfway between road crossing #1 and #2, I saw a huge ice flow up ahead, almost as if there had been some flooding? I wasn't willing to risk it, especially since I was alone so I took it as a sign that 6 miles would be enough for the day.

Had the trails to myself except for two guys on mountain bikes with huge tires headed in as I was headed out, and two snowmobilers headed out just as I got back to the park edge on the east side. Managed to run 56:30 for the 6 miles and even got the last mile in under 9:00 pace ;) A happy run in the woods for me!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Icy Morning

Wasn't quite sure what to expect with conditions this morning given the torrential rain and warm temps yesterday and the cold snap that followed. It was a bit hard to tell in the dark at 6:00 am, but overall I was surprised that the trails were not as icy as I had anticipated and were softer than I would have expected. I ran the snowmobile trail up and over Mt. A. and then went out onto the groomed ski trail on the golf course. That section was decent, and my headlamp picked up a fox loping across the 3rd green - neat! Once I crossed the street to the Heath trail, I was disappointed to find that there hadn't been much traffic other than the deer. They had made a veritable highway in one section! With little traffic since the last snow, things weren't well packed and I kept slipping off the thin ribbon of packed snow into the soft stuff. There was also a lot of undermining and a fair amount of water under the snow. I sunk through a few times on the way out, enough for me to decide to simply retrace my steps and not keep going around the Heath. I took the road on the way back, which was actually fairly dry. It was a slow 4.5 miles with the darkness and the uneven footing, but I was happy that I managed to at least get out of bed and out the door! That is always an accomplishment, especially on a cold winter morning :-)

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Christmas is Finally Over

As this weekend draws to a close, we can finally say Christmas is over. Sam and I took down the tree and put away all the ornaments and Christmas stuff on Friday as part of our stay-at-home snow day activities, and then we spent the weekend down at Ryan's parent's house for the final installment of Christmas.

Yesterday morning when Sam and I woke up, the thermometer was reading -9. Brrr. This arctic air has been a bit nuts! Ryan didn't bring enough cold-weather clothes for an early morning run outside, so he hopped right on the treadmill when he came downstairs, as he had to get his run in before heading to NH to pick up his grandparents. I know the treadmill might have been a better idea in terms of the pace workout on my schedule, but I ended up running outside around 10:00 am, because well, 1), I had the luxury of waiting and by 10:00, the temps had climbed to a balmy 5 degrees!; 2) I had no inside work-out clothes which would have meant running on the treadmill in either tights and a longsleeve shirt or my underwear. Neither were very appealing!; and 3) I really dilike the treadmill and will be anything to avoid it :) So, I suited up in a lot of layers and headed out. Georgetown got two feet of snow out of this storm (the jackpot, as the Weather Center called it), so the roads were pretty nasty, even though it was 18 hours after the storm ended. I couldn't manage the 7:30 pace I had in mind, but did manage 8:45s for the 5-mile loop, and on crappy, sloppy roads in single degree temps, that has to count, right?! ;) I'm saying yes! Ha.

Around lunchtime, Ryan's sister, brother-in-law and little 4 month old nephew arrived from NJ, so the whole family was there. It was really nice to see everyone, but I have admit that I'm glad we're home and we can put the holidays to bed. Things got stretched out this year with a lot of different celebrations over the past few weeks, all of which were great fun, but it's been a bit exhausting.

Still, we had a great time hanging out with everyone. And of course, Sam loves little Gavin, and is a great big cousin, very helpful and wanting Gavin to be happy.

Cute cousins :-)

Today, temps were much more reasonable, and since Ryan and I waited to head to the other Brad after Meg, Chris and Gavin took off, we didn't start running until 10:30 or so. It was a beautiful, sunny day, and a lot of other people had the same idea! Honestly, I was surprised by the traffic the trails had seen. Wow. Impressive! And there were a lot of people out enjoying the morning too. We headed off, snowshoes in hand, to run along the pavement to the start of the GAC Fat Ass course, our go-to loop :-) Conditions were great and the trails were in pretty good shape and moderately packed for the majority of the way. 6 miles is the longest snowshoe run of the season, and it definitely felt like it in a few spots, but it really was lovely out and fun to be out on my snowshoes with Ryan. The funny thing is that In fact, we were so happy with how it went that when we got home, we had a quick lunch, and then packed Irene, Dana and Sam up in the car with their snowshoes and went back for more! 

Of course, the second snowshoe of the day was done at a bit more mellow pace than the first, but it was great to be out in the woods on the snow with everyone! Lots of fun!!

Sam leading the way

Sam with Grammie and Grampie

Silliness on the trails

Tromping through the deep snow

Group portrait out on the trails ;-)

Friday, January 3, 2014

Finally, A 2014 Run

Hasn't been a great start to the 2014 running year (or perhaps it's more accurate to say there's been no start to the 2014 year) and I've feeling a bit cranky about it. I didn't run New Year's Day. I didn't run yesterday because of work, the cold temps and the snow. Today, we woke up to more snow, which is awesome, of course, but it meant we were all home for the day and I wasn't sure if I'd be able to get out. Sigh. Ryan worked upstairs in the loft for the day while Sam and I hung out downstairs and made pumpkin bread, did crafts, played with her marble run, read some books, watched TV and tried not to bother Ryan too much. We did pretty well, but at lunchtime, I told Ryan I really needed to get out, and he nicely agreed. To keep it as short as possible, and so as not to freeze :-), I just stuck to running the 3-mile Patriot Commons loop. It was cold and windy, but actually, conditions were better than they were on Monday. The streets were covered with hard-packed snow, which made for some good screwshoe running, so I was able to make decent time on the loop. It wasn't the most exciting first run of the year, but hey, it was a run :-)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year's Day = Frozen Pipes, No Run and Some Fun with Friends

Shortly after waking up, I headed into the bathroom only to discover that the water was not running in the upstairs sink. S*&t! We've had the pipes freeze up there before but hadn't thought they'd freeze last night. Of course, it was -10 out. Yikes! Not the way I was hoping to start the day, or the year for that matter. I woke Ryan up and we spent some time trying to see if we could figure out which pipe, etc, before calling a plumber. He couldn't get over right away so Ryan opened up the space under the stairs, cranked the heat in the bathroom, and every once in a while went up to test to see if the water was running again. He got grouchier and grouchier. Then I couldn't open the back door - the bottom part of the slider was sticking. More grouchiness. On top of that, he's still feeling sick from a cold that started last week, so boy oh boy. 

Amazingly, after about 5 hours, the pipe unfroze. Hallelujah! But at that point, we were headed out the door for some much needed playtime with Sam's friend, Anne, while Ryan and Phil headed out to ski in the woods. I really wanted to run, but I knew that Ryan needed the attitude adjustment much more than I did, so I settled for a zero day on the first day of the year. Kind of disappointing, but hey, sometimes life just doesn't quite go as planned. To remedy the lack of training for today, I decided to sign up for a race instead :-) No, not the marathon, the TARC Spring Thaw 6 Hour Run. It will undoubtedly be more "fun" than the marathon and besides, my training plan calls for a long run that day anyway, so sure, why not?! :-)

Besties :-)

Red and white

Late afternoon light

Tromp in the woods